March: Around town

Cuisine Entertainment

March 1, 2022

What’s new and now in the Queen City

Tapas time

PARA, a new 55-seat restaurant and bar, is open in South End, with Executive Chef Alex Verica leading the kitchen. The menu of small, shareable plates ranges from the familiar (Shrimp Cocktail with spicy horseradish cocktail sauce and lemon) to the unexpected (Milk Bread PB&J with peanut butter, foie gras and berry jam) and highlights local farms. If Verica’s name sounds familiar, you might recognize him as the former sous chef at The Stanley (and as the son of Stanley chef/owner Paul Verica). He previously worked at Dot Dot Dot and Heritage in Waxhaw. Short for the French word imparable, which translates as “unstoppable,” the menu at PARA offers plenty of seafood selections like the Tuna Crudo with jalapeno, citrus, avocado, hot pepper and radish, and the Lobster Toast with milk bread, chive aioli and ORO caviar, along with Asian-inspired plates such as the Tempura (oyster mushrooms, radish, broccoli slaw and togarashi aioli) and the Crab Rangoon (fried steam bun, miso ginger sauce and pickled vegetables). PARA is open Mon.-Thurs. 5-11 p.m. and Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-2 a.m. 235 W. Tremont Ave.

Photo by Peter Taylor

At PARA, Alex Verica’s menu of small plates is complemented by creative cocktails developed by Yahira “Yoshi” Mejia, including The Berry Nice (Grey Goose strawberry and lemongrass essence, lemon, lemongrass, Topo Chico, and strawberry St. Germain foam), left, and the Mez Me With That (Illegal mezcal, orange, lime, cilantro oil, and togarashi).

Tower power

Independence Boulevard’s lone skyscraper is getting a new look: The long-vacant seven-story Ervin Building, recently known as the Varnadore Building, will once again house offices and, after a monthslong renovation by Choate Construction Co., a rooftop restaurant. The project started in January and is expected to be complete by late 2022. The building was constructed in 1964 by Charlotte developer Charles Ervin as the first high-rise tower on Independence. Midcentury features such as original terrazzo floors, exterior marble and vintage bathroom tiles will be preserved during the renovation. While the interior will undergo an extensive refresh, the building’s exterior will be preserved and a new 200-foot mural will go up on the site. 

Soul sister

Fans of Soul Gastrolounge no longer have to wait all day to enjoy menu favorites like the Asian glazed pork belly tacos, fried Brussels sprouts or lamb lollipops with rosemary and pecorino. Sister, an all-day café with a rooftop terrace, opened in the former Kiki Bistro spot in Plaza Midwood. It’s the newest concept from Soul owners Andy and Lesa Kastanas. “Since Soul is more of a dinner-only adult establishment, we are offering those items at Sister,” Andy Kastanas said in a news release. “It’ll be more like a daytime, all-inclusive version of Soul.” 

Photo by Peter Taylor

The morning menu features coffee and matcha and a small selection of breakfast bowls and pastries, including baklava, phyllo hand pies, croissants and muffins. At lunch, expect salads, small plates and Greek favorites such as moussaka, spanakopita and pastichio, along with a few Soul bestsellers. The dinner menu is heavy on small plates, from the anchovy fries to shrimp saganaki (kataifi-wrapped shrimp with broiled feta and an ouzo-tomato sauce). Brunch service will be added in the spring. Sister is open Tues.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 1500-A Central Ave.

New at North End

This summer, Bayhaven Restaurant Group, the team behind Leah & Louise, will open four new chef-driven concepts at Camp North End. B.A.D. (Beyond Amazing Donuts) will feature pastry chef Jasmine Macon’s doughnuts, fritters and cinnamon rolls. Bird is the Word will serve chicken sandwiches, smoked chicken family meals and Southern sides. Passage Seafood will be a modern fish camp serving Atlantic seafood, oysters, raw fish and more. Leah & Louise mixologist Justin Hazelton will lead The Abyss, a 40-seat speakeasy serving craft cocktails and late-night eats.

Photo by Peter Taylor

Food + drink

Milkbread, the new all-day café from Joe and Katy Kindred, debuted in Davidson, serving doughnuts, bowls and salads, and chicken sandwiches. 624 Jetton St., #110, Davidson,

Resident Culture opened a second location in South End. 332 W. Bland St., Suite C,

Wine bar Cicchetti reopened at Bank of America Corporate Center in uptown, featuring Italian small plates, an extensive wine list and a low-ABV cocktail menu. Open Tues.-Sat. 100 N. Tryon St.

Link & Pin will soon open its third location at The Arboretum, in the former Mickey & Mooch spot.

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit has closed in South End. 


New in South End: Allbirds opened a retail store at 100 W. Worthington Ave. | Parachute, whichsells bedding and bath essentials, opened its first North Carolina store at 1930 Camden Rd., Ste. 270 | Interior Define Studio, which sells customized home furnishings, is open at the Design Center. 1930 Camden Rd., Suite 265

Intel of Your Wildest Dreams!


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